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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Pte John East DCLI, later RE

Grace Talbot

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Please excuse my ignorance but I'm new to WW1 family and military research.

I'm currently researching one of my great grandfathers, Pte John East 3/4939 DCLI, later 31703 RE.

I've managed to find his discharge documents and medal card on Ancestry but couldn't find his service papers - does this mean that they were destroyed in WW2 or would it still be worth looking at Kew?

From his discharge papers I've learnt that he joined 3rd Btn DCLI in 1912 and in 1916 re-enlisted (I think as a "Pioneer") in the Royal Engineers, serving in Archangel in 1919 before discharge on health grounds (flat fleet) in 1920. What I'd like to do now is find out more about his unit(s) and active service. Unfortunately I don't understand / can't make out some of the entries on his papers. Could anyone help with the following please?


Entry dated 18/8/1915, looks like "To 2--s 10th Group Signalling Company RE". (--rd Army? crossed through)

Would this be a cpy of DCLI attached to the RE? He doesn't re-enlist in the RE until 31/7/16?? Btw, I'm rather confused that he "re-enlisted" in RE. Was re-enlistment the standard practice for transferring a soldier from 1 regiment to another?


Looks like "Awarded 1st --badge or brigade" ? What does this mean please?

and lastly(for the pics!):


In the "From whom received" column, does that read 238th Brigade Sig Company ? Also can anyone read and explain the 1st 3 lines of "Raised to -----rate of EP? etc".

And finally..............The cover of his discharge documents lists his unit as B Cpy 2TB, I take it that's a training battalion in the UK?

Lots of queries, sorry. Any input gratefully received!!!! Thanks :)

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First - looks like HQ, could be 2nd Army and I think it is 10th Corps and not group.

The middle one is Good Conduct badge by the looks of it.

Raised to skilled rate E.P. could brackets be (Temporary >>>> A.C.I. and number it comes under)

(looks like) Clothing certificate by O.P.

G.H.Q. Signal C.R.E.

C.R.E. - Commander Royal Engineers.

If he was in from 1912 - he was possibly time served by 1916 and re-enlisted in REs. Either a regular of TF man.


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GC badge is Good Conduct Badge

I have looked at his service record and it translates thus:

2 Company, 2nd Training Battalion, Signal Service Training Centre (Bedford). He appears to have been trained as a telephone switchboard operator, but only qualified as proficient after being examined by a member of GHQ Signal Company in France. At this point he moved from the rank of Pioneer - a rank given to unskilled men of the RE - to Sapper. Along with this he received Engineer Pay (EP) which boosted his pay pay packet. He also served with "Q" Signal Company.

With regard to 238 Brigade Signal Company, there was no such unit. I think he may have been attached to 238 Brigade Royal Field Artillery. RE Signal Companies provided a small detachment to the various RA brigades.


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Thanks Terry.

Some extra pics - hope this is what you meant!

OK, close-up from the 1st pic submitted


and from the top of that same page that comes from:


Could it be 10 CHQ Sig Cpy? Would that make any sense? (Military units and titles are NOT my strong point!)

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Crossed posts!!!

Wow, thanks TR! How do you know all that ? You made sense out of an apparently foreign language. Have a virtual pint :)




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Terry and Steve, thanks for your help on this.

When I mentioned this to my father, it turns out that he still has my great grandfather's Army pay books from 13 May 1919, so I can confirm / add the following points if anyone's interested:

His Active Service pay book is signed and stamped in 1919 by Ralf B Emerson, Captain, OC 238 Brigade Signal coy RE, so that confirms 238 Brigade etc.

A half sheet has been added and stuck into the book stating : "Special allowance of 2/6d per day was given from 1/9/19, Authy GRO 580 of 7/8/19 Archangel WO Tele 22306 of 1/8/19", signed and stamped (looks like) L H Rialt, Lieut R Warwicks Regt for OC Signals GHQ.

His daily rate of pay was 1/6, increasing to 1/10 when granted skilled rate.

He was paid in roubles from 29/5/19 to 9/9/19. According to a note in his paybook 40 roubles = £1 .

One thing I still find rather confusing - He enlisted as a special reservist in 1912 for 6 years service but in 1916 re-enlisted as a regular for 6 years in the RE. I don't really understand that. Did you have to re-enlist to change regiments? And why would he have changed from SR to Regular status?

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